The first holidays after a divorce can be incredibly stressful, particularly those at the end of the year that are traditionally family orientated. Our Alpharetta collaborative divorce attorneys share some advice below on how to overcome obstacles from emotions, to raising children.
While some parents are able to rise above their failed relationship and spend quality time together with their children, this is a rare approach. Rather, there will be a need for cooperation and compromise.
Much will depend on the divorce settlement, specifically what has been decided in terms of custody and visitation rights, or the co-parenting plan, if there is one.
The most common solutions are to either alternate holidays or to split time between parents every holiday. Both have their advantages and disadvantages.
Alternating Holidays After a Divorce
This approach can work, although it can be stressful for the children who want to spend time with both parents, but can’t because they are going to be away on vacation with only one of them. By the same token, being in a new, different environment can help to divert children, even if the family previously celebrated a traditional Christmas together every year.
It is also stressful for the parent who doesn’t have the children during the holidays, even if they are able to see the kids now and then. Of course, not all parents become permanently single after a divorce: many form new relationships quite quickly and even remarry. Some take on children of their new spouse. But if you are now living alone for the first time in years, you should try to make a proactive plan with family and/or close friends to distract yourself from the fact that your children won’t be around.
It also helps to plan ahead for the following year when you will be able to spend the entire holiday with your children.
Sharing the Holidays After a Divorce
Sharing first holidays after a divorce is technically a good idea, but it can be more emotionally stressful than not seeing them at all. One danger is that each parent will try to outdo the other, making their days more exciting and eventful, which can be tiring for children, especially younger ones. Christmas is a perfect example where one parent has the children on Christmas Eve and the other on Christmas Day. This can be just too much for small kids.
If divorced parents are going to be sharing the first holidays after a divorce, it’s vital to consider the needs of the children first – and not the parents. Flexibility and mutual cooperation will help the plan succeed.
The Role of Absent Parents During the Holidays
Whether there is a deliberate plan that one parent will not see the children during the holidays or circumstance doesn’t allow it, modern technology offers some great compromises. Skype offers perfect opportunities for children to connect with the absent parent. If that isn’t possible, a telephone call can be very comforting for all. Another alternative is for the absent parent to make a video or DVD that the child or children can see during the holidays – or even a series of recordings. The absent parent could even read a holiday book to share while they aren’t around. This will though require the cooperation of the other parent.
However you decide to handle the first holidays after a divorce, it’s important to put the children first. You will all be happier in the long run.
If you are considering divorce or require some form of mediation after a divorce, our experienced divorce attorneys are here to help. Call Waggoner Hastings to schedule a consultation.